WELLESLEY, Mass. – Sophomore Charlotte Wagner's goal in the 29th minute proved to be the winner as the second-seeded Mount Holyoke field hockey team defeated third-seeded MIT in the semifinals of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Field Hockey Championship Tournament at the Wellesley Outdoor Fields Complex.
With the win, the #16 Lyons improve to 16-2 overall and will face the tournament top-seed and 10th-ranked Wellesley on Sunday at 1pm in the NEWMAC Championship game. The Blue, who were 4-1 winners over Babson in the first semifinal of the day, and the Lyons met in last year's title game with Wellesley earning a 2-1 overtime victory and the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. MIT concludes its outstanding season with a 12-5 record.
Both teams saw strong chances in the early going as each side benefited from corners within the first 12 minutes of the opening half. The Lyons defense held strong on an early shot by MIT, that saw senior midfielder Elizabeth Dethy (Morristown, N.J./Philips Exeter) shoot just wide. Minutes later on the opposite end, Lyons' junior midfielder Sarah LaQuerre (Old Orchard Beach, Maine/Cheverus) fired off a shot off a corner injection by Wagner (West Chester, Pa./Westtown School), which was saved by MIT goalie Paige Kennedy (Eastchester, N.Y./School of the Holy Child) in the 11th minute.
After a lot of back-and-forth at each end, it was Mount Holyoke that broke through onto the scoreboard as Wagner fired it in past the reach of Kennedy in the 29th minute. The goal, which was Wagner's 12th of the season, was assisted by junior forward Julia Bell (Longmeadow, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson), who sent a great pass across for the tally.
It was a corner heavy end of the half as three penalty corners were awarded in the final five minutes. MHC benefited from two of those, unable to get anything going from either opportunity. MIT saw the last one of the frame, but the MHC defense had strong coverage to keep the Engineers away from the goal and push it out of the zone.
Defense was the name of the game over the opening 35 minutes as both sides posted two shots. The Lyons held a slight advantage in shots on goal by a 2-1 margin, while both teams had three penalty corner opportunities.
In the second half, MHC saw senior captain Kirsten Kilburn (North Branford, Conn./North Branford) rifle a shot in on Kennedy off the corner, but the save was made in the 43rd minute to keep it a 1-0 affair. MIT also had a corner minutes later, but the Lyons defense was relentless, keeping the Engineers on the outer perimeter of the circle before clearing it out of the zone.
MHC's best shot to push its lead further came in the 65th minute, when after an infraction in the circle, sophomore defender Ruvimbo Mushavi (Harare, Zimbabwe/Arundel School) was awarded a penalty stroke. Despite a good cut to the right, Kennedy was there at the post to make the save and keep it a 1-0 game.
The Lyons dominated play over the final 10 minutes to hold on for the victory. It marks the fourth appearance in the NEWMAC title game for the Lyons, who also went in 1999, 2011 and 2013.
In goal, MHC saw sophomore keeper Liz DiCesare (Westford, Mass./Bishop Guertin) make one stop as the Lyons held the Engineers to just two shots in the contest. For MIT, Kennedy shouldered the loss, stopping four shots.
MHC held a 6-2 advantage in shots and a slim 6-4 edge in penalty corners for the game.
Sunday's championship game can be followed via live stats and video by clicking HERE.